Tag Archives: Facing Giants

On Fitness Classes and Dancing Anyway

Blotchy is Beautiful

After my workout with Beth and Nate
After my workout with Beth and Nate

Last week I put on my not-exactly-workout gear and headed to Pro Gym in Oswego to engage in a CX Worx core training class with my amazing friend Beth Kolar. And then because I’m brave (or crazy) I stayed for a Body Combat class with the very intense but thankfully also kind Nate Rousseau.

This is kind of a big deal for two reasons:
1. I didn’t die. (I did briefly wonder if I would end up like that Biggest Loser contestant throwing up in the corner garbage can, but thankfully that didn’t happen, either.)
2. I showed up in the first place.

You may not think the second one is as impressive as the first, but you’re wrong. I don’t-die every day (so far), but I haven’t attempted any kind of group fitness experience since high school gym. I am an elliptical and weights girl, mostly. When I’m feeling brave, I might run on the elliptical or lift weights next to another person. I do yoga in my living room with a beginners DVD. But I’ve never braved a class with other “fitness enthusiasts” (a term which no one anywhere has ever applied to me).

Even contemplating a group fitness classes is a bit daunting for me. I know going in that I’ll probably be the least fit in the class, and when you add into the mix the fact that I will be fumbling through a routine I’ve never done before, my fear of looking foolish kicks in. I’m an extremely extroverted person who generally likes anything more if you add some people to it, but the two punch combo of looking fat and foolish has been a deal killer for me.

Just to give you an idea of how deep-seated this fear is, I’ll share this story: Many years ago I attended a party where people were playing DDRMax (a dancing video game where you have to dance on a floor pad of arrows to “win”), and I really wanted to try it. Even though nobody really knew how to play and everyone was messing up and giggling, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, I purchased the whole system and became an expert alone in my living room before I went to the next party. (And then I surprised the hell out of some people. Which was actually pretty awesome.)

My point is that this was a HUGE step for me.

Dancing Anyway

Earlier this year, I chose the word “dance” for my #OneWord365.

Here’s the thing about me. I love to dance, but most of the time I don’t because I am just too afraid of what people will think and how I might look–primarily either fat or awkward.

This confession is both literal and figurative. It applies to actual dancing, and it applies to just about anything else I shy away from doing. You’d be amazed how much my perception of my weight factors in whether or not I attempt things that are not physical–things like writing, speaking, training, standing up for myself, even just introducing myself to people. Don’t misunderstand, I do all of these things, but I wrestle against fear and unworthiness before I do any of them. Over the past five years, I have conquered the fear more and more consistently, but the truth is it is far from gone.

Since I chose (or maybe admitted) my word for this year, God has been whispering “Dance anyway” to me. It is constant background music. I catch it playing in my mind like the one verse of a song that you just can’t stop singing. And it’s taking root. It has it’s own hashtag skit.

And that’s how I ended up blurting out to my friend Beth (a personal trainer who has regaled me with stories of crawling to the bathroom after being so wrecked by an aggressive workout) that we should work out together once before I move to Texas. I was thinking one on one personal trainer stuff, but it became clear as we worked out the details that we were talking about a class. What in the hell did I just agree to?!! Come for my class, she said. And then just stay for Body Combat. It’ll be fun.

I thought about cancelling, but then there was God, whispering #DanceAnyway like a holy Justin Timberlake.

So I got in my car, drove 1.5 hours in traffic and walked in, awkwardly and late to her core class. It was, for a few minutes, the stuff of my nightmares. But then it was actually pretty awesome. In a painful, dear-God kind of way, but still. Somehow I managed to complete both classes, and somehow I managed to be my full self. My full blotchy self.

I had fun. The tiny fitness enthusiasts were actually really nice. And I daresay I was surprised by how well I kept up. And you know what? I would do it again.

Fear: conquered. Another one down, thousands to go, but I’m dancing anyway.

How about you? Do you need to get off the sidelines today? If so, I hope my adventure lends you some courage :)

 

 

Wounding Words, Healing Hearts

Yes, I know what you’re thinking… Where have you been, Emily?!  I’ve definitely taken a hiatus of sorts from BeBeloved, as life’s demands have multiplied exponentially. Between work, wedding planning, medical issues, and -oh yeah, sleep- writing has fallen way off my To Do list. Which is sad, because I love it. It helps my brain process and meditate, particularly on the truths God is showing me in the day-to-day. And I am compelled to share with you what’s been buzzing around my brain this week.

Wounding Words

The other day I was casually driving around town, heading over a slight hill. My attention was then captured by an enormous sign in the distance. Capital, bright red letters. From a ways off I couldn’t make out exactly what the sign read, though I had an idea. As I topped the hill the full sign came into view and the words I feared I had seen turned out to be real:

Shame On

SHAME ON

The three gentlemen standing behind the sign were protesters, displaying their contention for a particular business in town.  When I realized these words, my heart sank. I didn’t care who or what the sign was against or what they had done that was so wrong.  Those words kept piercing me, and every other motorist passing by. “SHAME ON…”

I got to thinking how awful this phrase is. Is there really anything worse you could say to another human being? Even “I hate you” doesn’t express such condemnation. Passionate emotion, yes. Extreme dislike, yes. Yet in the end it’s still an opinion.  Though something about “shame on”…. they’re almost cursing words. Casting judgement and humiliation on the listener. Or in this scenario, the reader.

Even though this phrase wasn’t printed for me, it pains me.

Healing Hearts

One concept I have been contemplating a lot lately is that of grace. And when I say a lot, I mean a LOT. It has increasingly sparked my mind and spirit the past year and a half. The last several months it has almost become overwhelming.

If there is an antidote to shame, it is grace. Whereas one says “You are entirely unacceptable” the other says “You are entirely acceptable.” I do believe I’ve written on this before, but there’s a reason for that! It just gets clearer and clearer. Grace covers shame. Love covers sin. God said so Himself in 1 Peter 4:8.

Our culture seems to be shame-based. That is, perfectly fine with casting shame on others. We’ll even stand on the road on a hot day for hours with a specially made ugly banner to let you know how little we think of you… and how little you should think of yourself too.

Beautiful ladies, will you please, please not give in to this mentality?? There will always be more than enough messages of why you’re not enough, or even why you’re bad. But Jesus has said no such thing to you. His banner over you is love. His mercy is ready to sweep over your mistakes. We all make them.  But shame- please don’t sit in it. Walk in grace. Claim your dignity! Receive the blessing and not the curse.

Even if we’ve done wrong, God doesn’t want us to view ourselves as bad. Believe it or not, that’s the truth! And, may I suggest:  Believe it.

In Response to Pat Robertson–To Wives With Cheating Husbands

Kim’s post yesterday about Mark Driscoll was spot on.

Then Pat Robertson opens his mouth and spews disgusting advice. It makes me so angry. Fire-spitting angry.

He has an audience, a following, a platform, and Christian leaders don’t stand up to correct him. They let this continue while the Mark Driscolls of the world follow in order condemning women.

To you, Beautiful Wife…the one with the cheating husband, the husband addicted to porn, I don’t know if anyone else will say it to you: It is NOT your fault.  You do not control the actions of your husband’s mind with a clean house or meals on the table or by dressing pretty for him.  Your husband is responsible for his own thoughts, his actions, his fantasies, and whether or not he acts on those thoughts. Your husband is responsible for how he treats you, how he talks to you, how he raises the children that both of you brought into this world.

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You are responsible for your thoughts and actions.  Not his. You are beautiful, lovely, and loved. Just because your husband doesn’t value you enough to keep his pants zipped up does not mean you have no worth. It does not mean that you are not a majestic creature made lovingly by the Creator.

I don’t know know why your husband is doing these things. I don’t know why you’re in this position or why you have to deal with it. I’m so sorry that you do. But please don’t lose yourself because he doesn’t respect you. Spend time abiding in our Savior and let Him remind me how valuable you are.

And please listen carefully. If you are part of a congregation that believes that men aren’t responsible for their actions: LEAVE NOW. Seek out a real Christ-following body of believers. Your spirit will immediately tell you when you have found safety.

The Latest from Mark Driscoll Makes Me TIRED.

It’s been way too long since my last post. I know.

I just deleted my third blog post about why I’ve been on hiatus. Forget it. It’s been an awkward season in my brain, and every post I’ve tried to write about it has been, well, awkward. My husband says, “How about you keep a journal and blog about other things?” I thought, “Are you crazy? I don’t have time to keep a journal! I can’t even find time to write this blog I keep deleting!!” But this morning I felt like God was maybe asking me to keep a journal for a season, so that’s the new plan.

Moving on.

Mark Driscoll, man.

Came across this yesterday. Seriously, Mark Driscoll?

If you don’t have the time, or desire, to watch this video, I’ll borrow my friend Aaron Monts‘s summary: “This condemnation is specifically for all stay-at-home dad’s, ‘Peter Pan types’ who simply don’t want to grow up and instead choose the lazy route as a stay-at-home dad rather than being a real man who provides for his family. This is a role that no woman can respect.”

Whenever I hear this man quoted, I fight the urge to quit the ministry. But then I try to breathe deeply and remember that being a woman doesn’t disqualify me in the eyes of most people these days, that this passion that I am chasing will not be void.

I want to say that, in fact, since I work with people who speak permission and have stated goals of empowering women in the church, that I am never troubled with this malarkey. (This whole blog may be an elaborate excuse for me to use the word “malarkey.” But then I second-guessed the word choice so I’ve linked to dictionary.com because I’m just a big nerd and I found the first definition a little bit fascinating in this context… again, big nerd here.)

The truth, though, is that Mark Driscoll’s comments get to me a little bit because I am affected in a lot of little ways by this conversation. It’s complicated being female and in ministry. When I taught in the inner-city, my students would tell about run-ins with the police for WWB. Walking While Black. It sounds funny but it was true too often. Sometimes I think I need some cute little acronym to say something is the effect of being in ministry while also being–read this in a whisper for effect–a woman. Something like MWB, ministering with breasts, but if you take that too literally, it would imply something a bit scandalous. Ministering while breasted? Or MF, ministry female, but no… I’ll just stop there, no good is coming of this.

Anyway, if I had that kind of cutesy acronym, I could use it, say, when I turn down my 42nd request to do provide childcare at a church. Why do they keep asking you to lead Sunday School, you ask? MWB.

I fight the urge to rejoin the corporate world every time I turn down a secretarial or childcare role or hand back a spool of ribbon, wondering if I am not enough of a servant. I fight it when decisions are made that affect me while the boys are smoking cigars or grilling or name-any-other-“manly”-thing-that-guys-do-that-aren’t-really-“for women.” I fight the urge to remove myself from the conversation whenever someone asks if it bothers Ben that he has to watch his own son so much so that I can lead (It doesn’t, but the question bothers him a lot), or implies that if I really loved Jack I’d just want to stay home every day because that’s what loving moms do.

I didn’t grow up evangelical, and I didn’t start my professional life in church-world, so little things stand out to me that other women might not even notice. None of it is a big deal on its own, but the cumulative effect is draining. It’s tiring and some days I just want to sit down and refuse to move (This is Jack’s current strategy whenever he has to do something unpleasant, like, say, leave the park. So I now know what God must feel like when I engage this particular strategy. Sorry about that, Jesus.)

Standing Up Anyway

Thank God for the people in my life who encourage me to stand up. The Forge crew isn’t perfect, but when I joined the Forge team a little over a year ago, the boys actually invited me to smoke cigars with them when I joined the team, which I did so, terribly and proudly. They may have re-lit my cigar about a dozen times.

You see, it’s the small things that do damage over time, but it’s the small things that heal, too.

Thank God for Aaron, a stand-up guy from our tribe who wrote How I “Denied the Faith” and Became a “Godless Man” yesterday about Mark’s remarks around gender roles from a dad’s perspective. Seriously, thank God for you Aaron. Thank you for reminding me that this conversation doesn’t just affect and categorize women. Thank you for your well-reasoned exegesis of the text. Thanks for this small, healing post that served me yesterday as a hand extended, saying, Stand up, Kimberly, we’re in this together.

The Blind Man’s Dash

Sometimes I strive for a compelling intro to these things [insert witty/engaging story here], but what can be better than this…

[content_box_light_blue width="75%"]Mark 10:46-52

Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar name Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.”

So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up!” He is calling for you.” Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus.

And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!”

And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.[/content_box_light_blue]

Have you ever really let this scene play in your mind?  For me, thanks to a devotional time, it has been playing, rewinding, playing, rewinding… all week. Maybe it’s because I can relate nowadays.  Can I be vulnerable? I have been struggling with health troubles for a while.  Recently it has gotten worse and my body has been put through the ringer– one I’ve been in before, multiple times.  So I hear my voice in Bartimaeus’ words: Jesus, have mercy on me.

Take Courage

Until this week I never realized Bartimaeus wanted to regain his sight.  So he indeed had sight at one point? If so, my interest-o-meter just went up. Maybe you once had something you lost.  For me: health. A regular functioning body.  For you?

Any time I read a healing story I am intrigued by how it happens. The interaction between Jesus and the ill. In this fascinating discourse it amazes that Jesus merely said “Go; your faith has made you well” and, immediately, Bart was.  Let’s call him that, by the way. We’re getting to know him a little better.

So what was unique about Bart’s faith?  Well, he wasn’t exactly a religious beacon. He had nothing to offer society. He was blind, left to begging on the streets. If he was known at all it was probably in negative conotation.  Regardless of what people knew of him, the important thing is what he knew of Jesus.  Jesus is Healer. Rabboni (teacher). Son of David (a king of ancestry).  No matter the scolding, Bart kept calling.  All the more. Bart spurs me to consider how fervently I cry for God, regardless of who is listening.

Arise

So often our minds focus on the amount of faith we have (or lack).  More faith, more miracles. Less faith, less.  If I’m honest, I know I can do this.  Bart certainly believed in Jesus– a lot. But the gem of his belief to me is not how much, but how unhindered his faith was.  Not the shushing of others, a disability, or even his cloak kept him from Christ  (Imagine a blind man stripping off layers of clothing, tripping his way to Jesus, probably bumping into things and people along the way!)

Here it is:  Is faith the grand, unmoving stance of trusting God– or the stumbling, bumbling, tossing-your-cloak aside dash to Christ, doing anything to get in His presence??  I’m going with the latter, because this dash, clumsy as it may be, is me, desperate for Him, completely aware of my need for mercy.

That Mercy is waiting for us. He wants us.  Neither the words of others or lies in our minds can actually make God less merciful! The necessity for mercy is not a barrier to faith. It is the reason for faith. Let no fear or hesitation or audience or discouragement keep you away. This is between you and Jesus.

Take courage, arise.  He is calling for you.

 

Coincidence? I Think Not

So, remember last week when I posted about my decision to step out of my comfort zone and pursue my long-time dream of writing a book? As you can see from the picture, I have begun.  But, I must confess: No sooner had I started down this path, the opposition came. From within.

I began questioning myself, telling myself the reasons why I shouldn’t do it. Do you really want to step into this arena? To open yourself up to the criticism and problems that will come with it? You have such a nice, peaceful life. And who do you think you are trying to write a book like this? You are not Seminary educated. You don’t have the clout or experience. 

Needless to say, I’ve been battling some intense pressure to just scrap the whole idea. But every day it seems that God is trying to reinforce His desire for me to continue “pressing in” to His will for me (Kimberly’s blog on Tuesday was one of these timely reminders). God’s messages have gotten to be so repetitive and obvious that I have given up thinking they might be coincidence.

Here’s a peek into my last week:

The newest Beth Moore study I’m doing is James–Mercy Triumphs. From Sunday: [content_box_light_blue width="75%"]Have the courage to live under strain and pain to be part of a better story. A larger story. Don’t wimp out.[/content_box_light_blue]

And then, from Tuesday:

[content_box_light_blue width="75%"]When the call of Christ sears a hole through your self-protectiveness, you go wherever He leads whether or not you feel like you fit.[/content_box_light_blue]

This is from Bob Goff’s book, Love Does: [content_box_light_blue width="75%"]He made us to be good at a few things and bad at a couple others. He made us to love some things and not like others. Most of all, He made us to dream. We were meant to dream a lot. We’re not just a cosmic biology experiment that ended up working. We’re part of God’s much bigger plan for the whole world. Just like God’s Son arrived here, so did you. And after Jesus arrived, God whispered to all of humanity . . . “It’s your move.” [/content_box_light_blue]

Then there is the matter of my book’s idea. The general topic is Women and their role in the church and body of Christ.  First, note the discussion in Michelle’s blog yesterday(coincidence–NOT!). And, I have been feeling like the Lone Ranger in my attempts to find resources for study, but then I wandered upon this article from a seminary lecture  by Professor John E. Toews in 1973 (It’s not like this is a brand new idea). [content_box_light_blue width="75%"]A doctrine or a truth has power only to the extent that it is modeled in a life style which is in harmony with it. Paul, and the rest of the New Testament, proclaim that male and female are reconciled and gifted in Christ, they are one and equal in Christ. It is now time for that truth to be modeled in the church if the church is to be the true eschatological people of God.[/content_box_light_blue]

Amen and Amen.

I could keep going on and on.  I haven’t even mentioned the Francis Chan sermon on Courage that I “stumbled upon” yesterday. Or the discussion I had with my friend Yvonne Heller on Monday. Or the one with my coach, Pam Haines, on Tuesday.

I hope you are encouraged to pay a little extra attention to those things you keep thinking must be coincidences. Maybe He’s trying to tell you something.

God Leaves Us Alone

At this very moment in time, I am being accused (again) of wanting to teach –and– in that same breath I am also accused (again) of wanting to take over a church.

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Please forgive me while I compose myself–my eyes are watering from the furious laughter.

All of this by the same man, a so-called pastor, who (from what I can tell) hasn’t matured a single iota in the past six years. Six years ago, I struggled with my identity in Christ because I didn’t know I had an identity in Christ. When this man and his leadership team told me I could no longer teach in their church and as a matter of fact, I could not serve in any capacity at their church, I went to God.

God gives each member of His church a gift and that gift is for the purpose of edifying and lifting up His body of believers (all with their own unique and individual gifts.) Sometimes a few gifts are present and they work together.  My gifts are discernment and teaching. And just like our human bodies have checks and balances, so does our spiritual body of believers.

When you get a cut that becomes infected–your body knows. White blood cells produce antibodies to cover the infection and more white blood cells eat up the antibodies. The white blood cells then die off, save for a few, who remember the infection and are dispatched quickly if that bacteria enters the body again to work super hard at ousting the offender before infection occurs.  Platelets are sent to heal the wound and protect it from further dirt and bacteria.

My purpose in God’s body of believers is to provide wisdom (like the white blood cells who remember the infection) my other purpose is to teach other believers (or new white blood cells) what the false teachers (bacteria) look like and how to protect the body (form the antibodies.) Other believers with gifts like mercy are sent to help bind the wound (platelets.)  And so on.

[content_box_light_blue width="75%"] About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill. He prayed to the Lord, who healed him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud. So the Lord’s anger came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah humbled himself and repented of his pride, as did the people of Jerusalem. So the Lord’s anger did not fall on them during Hezekiah’s lifetime…

However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart.

2 Chronicles 32:24-31[/content_box_light_blue]

The last time this pastor flung his imaginary accusations against me, I learned some pretty hefty lessons.

One of the most important lessons was that I should be listening to God. I never asked to teach in this pastor’s congregation. He appointed me to several teaching positions and I accepted thinking he’s a pastor, he must know what God wants for me. 

There was much pain involved in this battle. I made it out alive–with scars and shrapnel–but I made it and learned from it. I suppose I then forgot about all the garbage (bacteria) or maybe just filed it away and moved on.  God allowed healing years later when I unpacked a box with my notes from this pastor’s sermons.  I tore them up and re-purposed them in my (God-given) art and in the brokenness God whispered to me

[content_box_light_blue width="75%"]To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Isaiah 61:3[/content_box_light_blue]

 

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Here we are six years later, a different church, and this pastor appears again. This time poisoning a new leadership team with his lies.  A leadership team, who also asked me to teach several classes, who asked me to be their women’s team leader, to be on their kid’s VBS team, and to work with the youth and teach in that setting.  This time, my “white blood cell memory” took hold and I went to God in deep prayer over what he would have me do. And He answered very clearly every single step of the way (and believe me, I prayed every single decision out.) I did what I was led by the Spirit to do and again face these same, worn out accusations.

But this time, instead of worrying about a pastor lying about me and (possibly) ruining my reputation, I’m pressing in (as Kimberly so adequately said it yesterday) and I do see the purpose behind my pain. Without it, I would’ve never known what God truly had waiting for me. I would’ve been stuck in the pew under the authority of someone whose fruit is rotten.  I wouldn’t have learned that I was created for a purpose. I might have believed that pastor and his team who thought I should be silent and bake cinnamon rolls instead of using the gifts God gave me for the purpose of His kingdom.

Visual Prayer

 

I wouldn’t be here writing this.

And there is someone reading this who doesn’t know their identity in Christ. If that’s you–you need to seek Him out and ask Him to show you what you were created for–because you were created for a purpose and it’s bigger than you can ever fathom!

God left me alone for a period this time. I’m sure to test my heart. I don’t like it, but I’m glad He did, because I now understand that He has my absolute best interests in mind when He takes me through the valley. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; but God comes that we may have life, and have it to the full.

There is a thief out there, prowling, seeking to destroy your identity in Christ. You need only press in and seek God in order to bathe in the victory Christ offers.

Is there a thief you’ve handed authority of your identity to?

 

 

Fire Fighter: Wisdom from Billy Joel

We Didn’t Start the Fire.  Do you recall this Billy Joel song from the late 80’s?  The chorus goes: [content_box_light_blue width="75%"]We didn’t start the fire It was always burning Since the world’s been turning We didn’t start the fire No we didn’t light it But we tried to fight it [/content_box_light_blue]  This lyric has been ringing in my head a lot this week.  Since both of my girls are home for the summer I hear alot of squabbling throughout the day.  Most of the conversations go like this (spoken through tears), “Mom, she (fill in the blank) me!”  My question back virtually every time is, “Well, then what did you do?”   It’s Billy Joel wisdom.  Get it.  She may not have started the fire, but did she throw gas or water on it?  I don’t like the blame game.  I am trying to raise my girls to learn to focus on their responsibility in a situation.  Not to only think about what has been done to them.  I am the parent, I will deal with the other responsible party.

This life lesson will serve my girls well if they learn it now.  I really wish so many of our politicians had learned this lesson.  They need to be told, we don’t care who started the problem so much as,  what are YOU doing about it?  Are you spending your energy/time on solving the problem or are you just pointing fingers at others saying, “They started it.”   Sounds like my kids.

This also  applies to not just our relationships with each other, but our relationship to God.  When bad things happen to us, how do we respond?  Do we blame God?  Do we blame others and stay stuck in our anger or bitterness or hurt?  Sometimes things happen to us that are completely out of our control.  Like the saying I saw on a baby bib “SPIT HAPPENS.”  But more often than not, we have a part in the problem.  If we are honest with ourselves, often our own sin led us down a path to pain and heartache.  In either case, we get to control our response.

What do WE do?  Do we make excuses for ourselves and say that it’s not our fault, someone else started the fire.  Not us.  Or do we apply the wisdom of Billy and say to ourselves and to God, though we didn’t light it we tried to fight it.  I hope to be an example to my girls and model the practice of Fire Fighting.  Regardless of how the fire got started, I want to be honest with God and own up to doing my part to find the solution.  What about you?

The Root Canal Metaphor

Two significant things happened last Monday. First, I owned an hour of prayer in Mission Church‘s pre-Easter prayer vigil. Then I had a root canal.

In my morning prayer slot, I used our pastor’s PRAY acronym: Petition, Reflection, Adoration, Yield. It was a powerful space for me, especially as I processed the Yield component. What is my typical posture in prayer? In life? Where am I unyeilding? Do I want to know the answer? I clearly need to carve out dedicated prayer time more often.

Fast forward.

I may be the worst dental patient ever. I’m that lady who winces and trembles before the drill hits my tooth. My dentist has to say things like, “I’m not anywhere near your mouth yet.” So as I braced myself for this incredibly tedious procedure, I thought, God, I’m just going to pray  through this. Help me not hyperventilate. And so my dentist began to hollow out my tooth, and I began to pray. I started where I’d left off, thinking about yielding. And then I realized that God was teaching me something through this root canal.

I was in fact yielded to my dentist. I actually leaned back and let him drill into my tooth for what seemed like hours (but thankfully wasn’t), something that in any other context would be straight out of a horror film. Or a spy movie torture scene. Why on earth would I submit to this? Because the alternative is worse. Because my tooth was abscessing and the effects were painful. Even toxic. The dead tooth was decaying and would eventually cause tons of problems as my system tried to rid itself of the dead cells.

And so I yielded. And I thought about how I sometimes don’t want to let go of things that are dead. Of how I sometimes guard my wounds rather than letting God clean them out. Because I know the cleaning will be unpleasant. In the week before my root canal, two of my closest friends had confronted me on how I sometimes hold on when it’s time to let go.

And then I realized that I was processing another story in which death was necessary in order for healing to occur. The Easter story plays out in our lives over and over again as we grow. And in that story our Savior yielded so that healing and reconciliation and salvation could come.

So as I prayed for the second hour of my day, I lay back and really asked God to clean and refine me. I let him drill down into the hidden places, clean out the infected tissue, and make room for healing and new life. I confessed and repented that I often would rather be increasingly uncomfortable than face the dentist (literally and figuratively).

Can you relate at all? If you have the courage, pray with me for refinement. Ask God where some scary sorts of cleaning are necessary so that healing can begin. And drop me a note in the comments section so that we can pray for each other.

Standing Up, Part 2

Last week, I wrote about standing up when all you want to do is sit down. And I asked for prayer because I was tired.

I’m grateful for your prayers. It was a challenging week to be sure, but I kept my head up.

Sometimes when I’m stressed or discouraged, I wallow in it. Let me tell you how much that doesn’t generally help. So last week, I took a lot of time for soul care. I lived in the scripture. I went to sleep when I was tired, and let the laundry pile up. I did some visual prayer. I did yoga. I finished reading a novel.

Basically, I stood up by trusting God’s love for me, and trusting that I was worth some self-care. I lived out my beloved-ness. I drew near to the love of God, and out of that rooted place, I faced the giants in my week.

What do you do when you face discouragement? I’d love to hear in the comments :)